Erotica author Francesca Hawley is known for writing deliciously curvy heroines and unforgettably alpha heroes. In her newest release, Cupid Rocks, wolf shifters Joe and Mandy take one look at each other and know that they are True Mates. Unfortunately, their families are not as easily convinced. Today the author answers our questions about her hero's rock star lifestyle, which is interrupted when he falls in love. We also learn about Hawley's independent heroine, Mandy, and what the mating bond means for her.
Joe is a successful musician, and even though he is turning 40, he is still very much in his prime — as evidenced by his demonstrative female fans. Yet despite his access to willing women, Joe is looking for his True Mate. What makes him want to settle down?
Joe's been a musician for twenty years and he's seen and done it all. He's lonely and he's in a band with two sets of True Mates. He sees these happy couples and wants what they have. He also know that he's not getting any younger and he'd like kids. He's definitely ready to settle down with one partner. Though I doubt he'll ever completely settle down — after all he is a rock guitarist.
Touring with his band, Joe is used to jumping quickly in and out of women’s beds. But Mandy usually isn’t so free with her affection. However, when these two meet, sparks fly and they immediately look for somewhere to be alone. What about Joe has Mandy unable to say no?
She's immediately attracted to his looks, but also his talent. She knows musicians and when someone is as talented as Joe is, Mandy finds that a complete turn-on. Also, there's that True Mate stuff kicking in. When a True Mated pair meets, it's like gasoline and a spark getting together and everyone else better just get out of the way because the heat is intense.
Music plays a huge part of your characters' lives. During the novel they listen to everyone from Eric Clapton to Barbara Streisand to Nickelback. What was on your playlist while you were writing Cupid Rocks?
I set up several playlists. I even put together what I considered a "concert" playlist with several sets that the band might play. The songs I included were those I talked about in the story like Sweet Child of Mine, My Father's Eyes and RockStar. But it also included things like Joe Fabulous by Bad Company — for obvious reasons. LOL. Turn the Page by Bob Seger and Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi represent the grind of touring that Joe is experiencing so they were in my playlist too. I also listened to Yngwie Malmsteen because I knew he'd be a major influence on Joe. Malmsteen is a metal guitarist with a classical background. His music is really breathtaking and I knew Joe would pattern himself on Malmsteen because of that. If anyone is curious, you can find videos of him playing on YouTube. And I created a Cupid Rocks playlist on YouTube. You can find it here.
Even though this is a paranormal story, you didn't make your hero and heroine's shifter heritage their only personality trait. These characters have jobs, friends, hobbies and, most importantly, families with some very big opinions. Why was it important for you to ground Mandy and Joe's lives in some everyday issues that we all face?
I like writing stories that meld fantasy with reality. If something is too out there it might be more challenging for readers to identify with the characters, so by giving them a strong back story it grounds the characters and the story in reality. It provides a touchstone. A way for the reader to say, "oh wow, I've got parents just like that" or "I know people with parents like that!" I have to say I really love Carly and Eddie (Mandy's parents) and Leopold and Maria (Joe's parents). I had to make sure they didn't take over the story because I found them such a blast to write about. I'm actually toying with the idea of writing the stories where they meet for the first time but I'm not sure about doing that. It might be better to let those remain in the imagination.
As wolf shifters, Mandy and Joe know quickly that they are mates destined to be together. The rest of the story is about how they learn to live with each other. What made you decide to tackle the post-happily-ever-after with these two?
It's the story they wanted me to tell. They both had some baggage to deal with so I knew that even though they were True Mates, things for them wouldn't be perfect. And it won't be perfect in the future either, but I know — and more importantly THEY know — that even though things are tough, life is better when their together. And that together they can face anything. I'm definitely a happily-ever-after kind of gal.
"Fated to be mated" is a common trope in many romance novels, especially paranormal stories. But you bring a very romantic twist to this mating. Joe tells Mandy:
Just remember you’re my True Mate, so you’re needed here. True Mates always happen for a reason. We come into each other’s lives in order to provide needed lessons—to ourselves and sometimes to our families.
Do you think that the idea of this kind of ‘mate’ exists only in books or can we have that in real life?
I think you can have that kind of relationship in real life too. Look at any couple who has managed to stay married 30, 40, 50 years. Those two people were meant to be together. Even if their life hasn't always been happy, they can't imagine life without the other person. And they've learned from each other and taught each other. I think that's what relationships are all about. Long term relationships are work, but when the couple puts in the effort, it's a blessing. People come into our lives to teach us something and that's really special and valuable.
Joe isn’t the only sexy wolf in Cupid Rocks. We also get to meet Mandy’s neighbor Zach. Will this handsome shifter be getting his own story?
I've got Zach's story started. Zach has lived an interesting life and I look forward to exploring that and how he ended up owning a bar in Whitewolf, Colorado. His True Mate is feisty but she has some issues and she too has some interesting family issues. Zach is loving and supportive and helps her work through some things. I'm really looking forward to completing the story!
Want to learn more about Joe and Mandy from Cupid Rocks? You can download the book, available now. You can also stop by Francesca Hawley's website and catch up with the author on Facebook. And for more hot stories, check out RT's Everything Erotica Page!